Remote work; making it work

Not only has remote work grown in leaps and bounds, it has also attained the respectability that many people attribute to the necessity created by the pandemic, that it had struggled for in earlier times.

Of course, it has some benefits for both the employer and the employed, which is why it has grown and established itself, even though the final push may have been given by Covid-19. Companies have found an opportunity of reducing real estate cost by allowing people to work from a place of their choice, usually home. In some cases, they may also have been able to negotiate the compensation package downwards for the flexibility offered. Employees are saving on commute time, a killer in most big cities, get to spend more time with loved ones, and take on family duties and help out in the chores, important for nuclear families. They are also able to look for employment anywhere in the world where the company permits remote work.

Other developments, like the growth of the gig economy, with freelancers available for short periods and specific assignments, have further fuelled the movement. Staff augmentation providers like Ushankk, already familiar with remote work over several decades, are helping companies and jobseekers make the transition.

However, behaviour and mindset changes are needed, both in managers as well as in the managed, to ensure that its full potential can be realized and it becomes an ongoing, sustainable trend.

Confidence building measures

There can be questions in the mind of the manager regarding the sincerity and commitment of people working from home. Is she putting in the hours required? Is she doing something else at the same time, that is not company work?

The employee in question needs to maintain utmost transparency, perhaps more than needed in an office scenario where there is general visibility of people around you. She should be visible to the manager on a video tool, if that is the policy of the company, and be willing to provide an update on her work whenever asked, to demonstrate progress.

For people interacting with clients, similar levels of transparency will be needed when interacting with them.

Clear definition of roles and responsibilities

The more specific expectations and roles can be made, the more effective remote work will be. In the absence of a line of sight, doubts and hesitation can creep in. Should I take a break now or later? Will my manager think I am always taking breaks? If possible, build breaks into the schedule that is created between an employee and manager.

Communication is key

Whether interacting with clients or colleagues, if you are stuck you cannot simply tap on someone’s shoulder for support. Remote workers need to be able to communicate in a manner that promotes clarity and removes doubts and grey areas. Further, their personal and physical presentation needs to be professional. Working from home does not mean you appear unkempt in your interactions. If you are on a call, as far as possible, try to eliminate background noises such as the TV blaring in the background. Of course, it is understood that not everyone will have the space or setup at home which will come across as a totally professional workplace.

Time commitment and hours

This is perhaps an offshoot of the transparency and definition needed for such an arrangement to work smoothly. It will help to operate on a schedule that mimics the workplace schedule. This way, the team that worked together in the office, will still be able to do work together remotely. It will be difficult to do so if either everyone operates on a different schedule or the schedule is either not known or keeps changing.

Onus is on the manager

We all want to belong. When we work from office, we are surrounded by the symbols and brands that refer to our employer. We are also in the physical company of others like us, which builds relationships and bonds, and helps people in backing each other when needed.

In a remote environment, all this goes missing. It is easy to feel alienated. One of the challenges companies have been facing with remote work is that attrition levels have shot up. Managers need to step up and ensure that remote workers continue to feel wanted and a part of the bigger picture. They should take help from others, such as HR, in this exercise, if needed.

Managers and organizations can take help from established companies in the staff augmentation solutions space, such as Ushankk, who have been working with remote staff much before Covid-19 happened.

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